Many Hungarian pilgrims arrived to the most significant pilgrimage sites of Christian civilization (Rome, Jerusalem, Aachen, Compostela) already in the Middle Ages, and the Hungarian Monarchy ensured the safety of the land trip of the crusaders and other pilgrims to the Holy Land in its territory.
After severalcentries, walking pilgrimages have been becoming popular in Hungary again: each year hundreds of people leave towards Compostela while others walk in Hungary, on one of the six domestic pilgrimage routes.
We have chosen three of these pilgrimage routes which are of particular interest because of their rich spiritual, natural and environmental. We do not cover them in their entirety but we would like to invite you to get a taste of their unique characteristics.
The pilgrimage route, qualified a European Cultural Route in 2005 by the Council of Europe, joins the different venues of the life of much wandering bishop, Saint Martin.
The 2500 km long route which stretches between Savaria (today Szombathely, Hungary), the birth place of Martin, and Candes-Saint Martin (France), has been supplemented with several shorter pilgrimage routes which lead the pilgrims to the places of worship of Saint Martin.
The main route stretches through Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy and France: because of it the pilgrim may get to know the cultural and spiritual traditions and environmental values of several countries. In 2016, exactly 1700 years have passed since the patron saint of France and Hungary, Saint Martin of Tours, was born in the Pannonian Savaria.
The idea of a pilgrimage route linking the nations of Central Europe and their important shrines of the Virgin Mary was conceived in 2006 in Hungary: two international pilgrimage routes should be constructed between the four big Central European shrines of Saint Mary, crossing each other, providing in this way the possibility for the peoples living here to get peace and reconciliation.
The Western-Eastern wing stretches between Mariazell (Austria) and Csíksomlyó (Şumuleu Ciuc, Romania), its length is approximately 1350 km. A significant section of the pilgrimage route (approximately 750 km) stretches across Hungary. The planned Northern-Southern section is being constructed between Częstochowa (Poland) and Međugorje (Bosnia-Herzegovina). The sign of the way refers to Mary and Christianity at the same time, and also to the concept that a pilgrimage route bridges distances and differences between peoples.
Though old pilgrimage traditions have faded during centuries, it indicates the respect of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, one of the most well known saints or the Middle Ages that, recently, several pilgrimage routes were created in her honour in Germany, connecting important venues of her life.
The 800th anniversary of Saint Elizabeth’s birth strengthened efforts also in Hungary. One wished to link the home town of Elizabeth, Sárospatak (Hungary) with Košice (Slovakia) where easternmost Gothic cathedral of Europe can be found, which was built in Saint Elizabeth’s honour.
The total length of the pilgrimage route, indicated by a red rose, is approximately 100 km (62 miles). Two thirds of the way stretches through the spectacular Zemplén Mountains of Hungary while one third of it stretches across Slovakia.